How to Select the Best Medical Assistant Training Program near Mobile Alabama
Now that you have decided to become a part of the rewarding field of health care and enroll in a medical assistant school near Mobile AL, it's time to choose a school that will furnish the right training. But just how do you go about comparing and evaluating colleges so that you subsequently enroll in the best one? Many prospective students start by evaluating the medical assistant schools that are closest to their residences and then gravitate toward those that have the most affordable tuition. While location and cost are extremely important such things as accreditation, internship programs and job assistance are critical issues as well. You might decide to take a look at some online medical assistant programs as an option as well (more about that later). The main point is that prior to selecting a program you must carry out your due diligence and compare all pertinent qualifications of the colleges you are evaluating. And to help you with that process, we have furnished a few questions that you need to ask each of the colleges on your "maybe" list. But before we start that review, let's briefly talk about the responsibilities of a medical assistant and the type of credentials and training that are available.
The Responsibilities of a Medical Assistant
The function of a medical assistant can be diverse as well as challenging. Primarily their duty is ensure that the Mobile AL clinics, hospitals and other healthcare institutions where they work operate successfully. Based on the type or size of facility, they may be more of an administrative assistant, a clinical assistant, or in smaller facilities both. They are tasked with giving direct support to the physicians, nurses and other health professionals but may also be found working at the front desk or in an office. A few of the many functions of a medical assistant include:
- Filling out insurance forms and filing claims
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Taking vital signs and weighing patients
- Taking blood and other fluid and tissue specimens
- Preparing instruments and rooms for physicians
- Supplying basic support during exams and procedures
Although medical assistants can carry out almost any activity they are authorized to under Alabama law, some prefer to specialize in a specific area and obtain certification. Two of the choices available are for the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA) and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) provided by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).
Medical Assistant Education
In contrast to many other healthcare professionals, medical assistants are not mandated to become certified, licensed, or to earn a college degree. However, many Mobile AL health care employers choose to hire graduates of an accredited medical assistant training school (more on accreditation later ) that have earned certification. There are generally 2 choices provided for a formal education. The first and quickest way to becoming a medical assistant is to obtain a certificate or diploma. These programs normally take about one year to complete, a few as little as six to nine months. They are designed to teach the fundamentals of medical assisting and prepare graduates for entry level positions. The second alternative is to acquire an Associate Degree, which are normally two year programs offered at Alabama junior and community colleges as well as technical and vocational schools. They are more expansive in nature than the diploma or certificate programs, and include general education courses in addition to the medical assistant classes. They usually have a practical element requiring an internship with a local healthcare practice. Associate Degrees are commonly a pre-requisite for and credits can be transferred to a four year Bachelor's Degree in Medical Assistant Studies or a related field.
Certification Programs for Medical Assistants
As previously mentioned, becoming certified is not a legal requirement, but is a good option for individuals who wish to boost their careers. It will not only help in securing a job after graduation, but it can also enhance initial salary negotiations. A number of potential Mobile AL medical employers just will not hire a medical assistant that has not received accredited formal training or certification. The most popular and arguably the most highly regarded certification is the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). In order to sit for the CMA exam, a candidate must have graduated or will be graduating within 30 days from an accredited medical assistant program. Alternative certifications are offered as well, such as the CCMA and the CMAA that we previously mentioned which are offered by the NHA.
Online Medical Assistant Classes
There are a number of accredited medical assistant programs available online as well. They are an excellent choice for those who may not have time to attend classes on campus but could fit them in if attended at home. This is an especially good alternative for Alabama students who continue working full-time while attaining their degree or certificate. As an added benefit, many online programs have lower tuitions than the more traditional on campus options. Ancillary expenses including those for textbooks, commuting and school supplies might be minimized also. Just remember that all requirements for practical training or internships must still be fulfilled, but they can often be carried out in Mobile AL area medical facilities. If you can learn without the rigid structure of participating in supervised classes on-campus, then this approach to receiving your training may be the ideal choice for you. With the online classes and the clinical training, everything needed to achieve proficiency to perform as a medical assistant is furnished.
Concerns to Ask Medical Assistant Programs
Before you can start reviewing your medical assistant school alternatives, you must determine which type of credential you would like to attain, and if you want to attend classes on-campus or online from home. As soon as those selections have been made, you can begin the procedure of evaluating medical assistant schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students restrict their searches to the schools that are nearest to Mobile AL with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important qualifiers, they are by no means the only ones. There are several additional issues that you should explore when researching programs. To help you with that task, below are a few questions that you should ask about each of the programs you are considering before making your final choice.
Is the Medical Assistant Program Accredited? There are many great reasons to make certain that the program you enroll in is accredited. To begin with, accreditation helps guarantee that the training you receive will be both comprehensive and of the highest quality. Second, if you plan on becoming certified, you must complete an accredited program. Two of the acknowledged organizations for accreditation are the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). If your program is not accredited by either of these organizations, you will not be eligible to take the CMA examination. Additionally, if you anticipate obtaining a student loan or financial aid, they are frequently not available for non-accredited programs. And last, as previously mentioned, many prospective Mobile AL employers will not employ a medical assistant who has not graduated from an accredited program.
What is the Program's Passing Rate? Most of the Alabama accredited medical assistant schools create their programs to prepare students to pass one or more certification examinations. To start with, you need to learn which of the certifications the programs you are considering are preparing their students to take. If you are interested in taking the CMA for instance, then obviously you will want to select a program focused on that certification. Next, find out what the school's passage rate is for the certification and contrast it to the national average. This is just one of the means to help evaluate the quality of a college's program. Naturally programs with low rates are ones that you will want to avoid.
Which Credentials are Provided? As we previously covered, there are basically two paths to acquiring medical assistant training. You can choose a certificate or diploma program and obtain entry level training in the fastest amount of time, from as little as 6 months, although the average is about 1 year. Or you can decide to earn an Associate Degree and get a broader education that will take approximately 2 years to finish in a junior college or vocational school. Whatever program you elect to pursue, make certain that the Alabama schools you are reviewing offer the kind of program you are interested in.
Are Internships Sponsored? A large number of medical assistant programs offer internship programs with Mobile AL area medical care providers. They are an excellent means to receive hands-on clinical training and experience. They may also assist students establish relationships within the Mobile health care community. And as an additional perk, they are an asset on resumes and for job interviews as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Getting that very first job can be a difficult undertaking for graduating medical assistant students unless they have some help from a job placement program. Verify that the colleges you are evaluating offer job placement assistance in the Mobile AL area and ask what their placement rate is. If a college has a high job placement rate for its graduates, it indicates that it has an excellent reputation within the healthcare community. It also indicates that it has a large network of employers to help place students in positions.
How Large are the Classrooms? Class size can be an indication of how much personal attention you will receive throughout your training. Smaller classes and classes with a higher teacher to student ratio are more prone to offer greater access to teachers and face to face interaction. If possible, try to sit in on a few classes before enrolling in a program to see what the teaching atmosphere is like and how much attention the students receive.
Is Class Scheduling Accommodating? If you plan on attending a medical assistant school while you continue to work on a full time basis, it's imperative that the school you select provides classes that fit your schedule. If you need to attend classes at night or on weekends near Mobile AL, confirm that those times are available. You may be able to fit your classes in easier with an online school, but you will still have to schedule all internships or clinical training that might be required. Additionally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes that you may have to miss because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Mobile AL Medical Assistant Program
It's essential to start your new career on the right foot by picking a medical assistant school that will provide the right training. Regardless if you're planning to launch a career in health care starting out as a medical assistant or to practice medical assistance as your life long career, you must obtain the appropriate information on available programs before making your decision. There are such a large number of schools offering training these days that you can make a selection based upon your personal preferences and individual circumstances. And as we have discussed in this article, verify that the program you decide on is accredited by an acknowledged organization, for example the CAAHEP. This is especially critical if you anticipate taking the CMA certification examination. But irrespective of the kind of credential that you plan to earn or if you have decided to attend either an on-campus or online school, don't forget to ask the questions we have supplied in order to compare programs and make an informed decision. And by picking the best program you can subsequently start a fulfilling career as a medical assistant in Mobile AL.